Sunday, December 12, 2010

India in South Africa: The Essential Certification



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This isn't as much a "Final Frontier" for India as it is a quest for validation. A quest to authenticate their number one standing on the ICC ranking system. To get it certified.

If India do win in South Africa; which I think is highly unlikely; then only Sri Lanka can legitimately question India's authenticity.

But the classy islanders are....hmmm; too classy for such a debate. And without Murali I doubt whether they are even as relevant any more, in a discussion for the top Test Teams in the World.

Collectively India's famed batting order has consistently failed to last the distance; over an entire series; when faced with genuinely quick bowling. Series wins in the West Indies, and Test Wins in Australia have come when the fast men have been either away or the pitches numbed.

Suresh Raina is a weak link. No 6 is a position that comes in play more often than not in South Africa and I am certain Dhoni does not have it in him to make the difficult decision to pick Cheteshwar Pujara ahead of Raina.

Gautam Gambhir is unproven. He is likely to go down along with Sehwag as India's most prolific and winningest; which I suspect they already are; opening pair ever. If Gambhir can add performances in South Africa, Australia and West Indies, he could earn the tag of being a part of India's best ever opening pair.

On the bouncy and fast pitches in South Africa the collection of Sehwag, Rahul, Sachin and VVS have been well below their career averages and more importantly lost the will, mid way, to fight through an entire series.

Individual spells of brilliance in South Africa, most notably Azhar's and Sachin's Tango in 1996 and Sehwag's blockbuster opening in 2001, have been far too brief to have a bearing on the end result of the series. The former was as almost as suicidal as it was breathtaking to watch.

On the bowling side, India's spinners have been ineffective and while Srinath, Prasad, Sreenath and Zaheer have previously excelled they have been second best to the home bowlers. South Africa have always outbowled us to win series and if we are to win this time we will have to do the same

To depend on Zaheer, Sreenath and Ishant for 3 whole tests is lke depending on a briliiant ad film maker to deliver a 4+ hour epic like Benhur. Sure there will be brillant spells every now and then, but I suspect by the time the new year comes along, we will be looking to the world cup for validation.

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17 comments:

Mahek said...

How does one conclude these batsmen lost the will to fight through an entire series?

Golandaaz said...

The last series was a good example. They fought for a good 4 innings and then in the 3rd Test from 350 odd for 5 in the first innings lost the match and series. My exact numbers may be wrong. For previous tours, do you need evidence? The score cards shows it

Mahek said...

The scorecard only shows the score. Different people can interpret it differently. Maybe it was pressure, maybe it was good cricket from South Africa, maybe they lost the will to fight as you said. I don't understand how anyone can comment on the players' willingness to fight.

Golandaaz said...

Point conceeded...Mahek. The point I am making is to need to last the distance. Usually endurance is equated to will power. Hence the liberty I took.

elegantstroke said...

Looking back at the past for future projections is valid, only as long as the composition of the team hasn't changed much. I would say the composition of the team has changed significantly, the entire team has more confidence now and more importantly - they have developed a habit and culture of winning. In this sense, I think this is India's best chance to win this series. Career defining moment for Dhoni. The way we perform in this series will be a good indicator for things to come next summer and winter.

Golandaaz said...

Agreed. But the nucleus of the team is the same. VVS, SRT and Darvid have gone to SA multiple times and failed. Harbie, VS, Zaheer and Sreesanth went there last time and had moments of brilliance without dominating the series.

Raina, Gambhir, Dhoni and Ishant are new...unlikely to render history irrelevant.

In fact take away Kumble and Ganguly and add Ishant and Dhoni, and a better opening par. We perhaps are a bit stromger but so are SA with Steyn and Morkel, a hot Amla and dangerous ABCDEFG

Rishabh said...

Sreesanth was the highest wicket-taker last time in RSA. Our other pacer besides Zak was VRV Singh. Harby didn't play. Paul Harris played only one match. RSA had Pollock and Ntini still firing.

A lot was different, I wouldn't make comparisons.

Golandaaz said...

Rishab, It would be safe to say that both teams are relatively stronger than in 2006. agree?

Rishabh said...

Yeah, both teams are stronger. Steyn and Morkel may be the best quick pairing in the world right now, while our batsmen couldn't be in better form (except Raina).

Mahek said...

So where do people stand on the whole ranking if the series is a draw?

straight point said...

all the talks of history will be redundant once the first ball of the series will be bowled... i have this feeling that this is going to be largely one sided series... with india having its upper hand...

smith the poppadom-finger not fully fit and clearly rushed to lead sa... their opening pair lookes very unsettled...

all the talks of pacy bouncy wickets are just hogwash... i can't see them putting smith on bouncy wickets with his incessant finger injuries...

anyways we have the attack if the do put up spicy surface...they could not face pak's second string bowling on placid wickets on uae with much conviction and our bowlers are going to be very handy for them...

sa's best chance is putting up subcontinental type wickets and wait for india to stutter...

Golandaaz said...

SP my man! I hope you are right!!

Mahek, if the series is a draw then we probably should have another series on Neutral grounds :-)

straight point said...

Hahaha...Its no hoping against hope gol...

Remember how ishant made amla surrender his wicket with barrage of short pitch deliveries?

Golandaaz said...

All I remember is Amla's century in both innings at the Eden Gardens. He bats with a monk like calm of Sehwag and the patience of Rahul Dravid.

I am afraid, people like Kallis, Amla, ABCDEFG, Steyn, make me nervous about our chances

Mahek said...

I'm not as upbeat about our chances as SP for the simple reason that barring Zaheer you don't know what you're going to get from the bowlers. Each of Sreesanth, Ishant and Harbhajan have the ability to rip through lineups but they don't do it regularly enough for me to be so sure of us beating South Africa. Their middle order is as good as if not better than ours and no matter how many jokes you make about Smith the fact remains he's one of the best opening batsmen of this century.

Golandaaz said...

Mahek, Agree 100% and now cricinfo is reporting that Zaheer may be unfit. Good news is that 2 of our last 4 wins have come without Zaheer but we have to depend on 1 rookie if Zaheer sits out.

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